UON Researcher Awarded Australia’s Top Innovator
University of Newcastle Laureate Professor Graeme Jameson AO, has become the inaugural recipient of the Prime Minister's Prize for Innovation.
The Prime Minister's Prize for Innovation is the nation's pre-eminent award for a significant advancement of knowledge through research and innovation through the application of science for a substantial commercial, economic and social impact.
Professor Jameson's technology - the Jameson Cell, is estimated to have contributed billions of dollars to the Australian economy.
Professor Jameson said he is humbled by the accolade, adding it reflects the value of research, science and technology to the national economy and Australian society.
"If you're going to put your heart into something, you may as well tackle a problem that will make a difference because the effort will be the same," Professor Jameson said.
The award acknowledges a lifetime's achievement in the area of froth flotation – a technique that recovers large volumes of minute precious mineral particles during mining processes.
Now installed at hundreds of mines in more than 20 countries worldwide, the Jameson Cell forces tiny bubbles through slurry to float fine mineral particles to the surface where they form a concentrated froth.
Professor Jameson said bubble size and quantity was the key to success.
"I knew the bubbles needed to be much smaller, about 10 times smaller, and they also needed to be produced at a rate of billions per second.
"Luckily, in the mid-80s, Mt Isa Mines had a team of highly-qualified and talented research metallurgists at Mt Isa who were prepared to look at, and actively help test what is now the Jameson Cell", said Professor Jameson.
Since 1990, the Jameson Cell is estimated to have recovered $36 billion in export coal in Australia alone.
University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor Caroline McMillen said Professor Jameson's work had greatly benefitted his scientific peers, not just the Australian economy.
"Professor Jameson has used the successful development of the Jameson Cell as a model that others can follow, and encouraged a culture of excellent science and innovation among his colleagues here at the University.
"Over 20 years the results have been outstanding. New inventions and discoveries have been made that are of national and international significance," Vice-Chancellor McMillen said.
But even after 40 years of improving the mineral extraction process, Professor Jameson isn't resting on his laurels.
His new technology, the NovaCell, aims at reducing the energy expended during the mining extraction process by 15 per cent, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
As it was for the Jameson Cell in the 1980s, the next step for the NovaCell will be commercialisation.
Professor Jameson will receive the Prime Minister's Prize for Innovation at Parliament House in Canberra this evening.
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